Long gone are the days when a new trainer could get certified and operate an exclusive and thriving business by offering private personal training sessions from a boutique style studio.
With the dramatic and relentless rises in overheads like rent, insurances, interest rates, utilities and marketing, it is practically impossible for a sole personal trainer to realise their dream of operating that type of business without a heap of capital to back them.
Like most personal trainers, when I first got into the game, I would canvas locations and imagine how awesome it would be to have my own clinic type studio, fitted out exactly to my specifications and be booked out with my wealthy and exclusive clientele.
That never happened, for a number of reasons:
- The initial expense of setting up an operation
- I didn’t have any clients
- I didn’t know how to run a business
- I was inexperienced as a personal trainer
- I didn’t have the balls to go for it
This was back in the late 90’s when things were considerably different to today in terms of how widely accepted personal training is, even so, there was less competition and there wasn’t a gym or studio on every corner to contend with.
I still see them popping up from time to time, but they are either short lived or struggle to generate the income required from training alone.
The unfortunate reason such a large percentage of these businesses fail is because the trainers are over ambitious and unrealistic with their own abilities.
I was able to own my own gym after being a qualified personal trainer for 5 years because I was persistent and relentless in learning every facet of the fitness industry. Mind you I was also very fortunate in finding an affordable opportunity that even then I was hesitant to pursue.
What I learned AFTER I bought my gym, was that being a ‘great’ personal trainer was such a small part of the whole picture. I worked a full time job in a restaurant as well as running the gym for the first 12 months just to pay my rent and eat because every cent that the gym generated went straight back into equipment and inventory for me to sell.
That being said I was somewhat prepared for what I was in for and I didn’t mind the long hours one bit, because I was achieving my dream. I had managed gyms, sold memberships, sold pro shop and had pushed my way into being involved in the promotion and marketing strategies that my previous employers were involved in.
I don’t want to dissuade you from pursuing your dream to own and operate your own fitness facility, in fact, the complete opposite. What I am attempting to convey here is that you must spend time learning the business inside and out.
I would suggest the following steps if owning your own gym or studio is on your ‘to do’ list (which I hope it is):
- Find a job working with a proactive and exciting employer, no matter how big or small. Generally the smaller the better because you will be able to have a hand in more facets of the business.
- Establish your reputation and brand in your community. You can do this working for someone else. Write articles for your local paper, start your own blog or site. Remember that you are always representing your own brand where ever you work.
- Begin writing your personal training business plan.
- Save your money! Do your research, find out how much your own business will cost to run then times that by 2 (to be safe)!
- Take a small business course part time. Learn basic accounting and administration.
- Network network network! With other trainers and where your target market congregate.
With hard work, patience and hard work (I know I said that twice), you guys have the ability to own your own fitness businesses, because at the end of the day, if your goal is to become a true six figure fitness professional, that is the only way.
Also check out this book by Stephen R. Covey: The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People